Bouillabaisse (French pronunciation: boo-yah-bays) is a traditional Provençal fish stew originating from the port city of Marseille. The name derives from two French verbs meaning “to boil” and “to simmer”. To the purist, bouillabaisse is very different from other fish soups because of its ingredients, method of preparation, and presentation at the table.
The recipe below is a fish stew made in the spirit of a bouillabaisse, if not in its particulars. Nevertheless, it is a well-made, delicious concoction that can be made in quantities large enough for family dinners, and whose leftovers may be frozen for later, more intimate rechauffe, such as dining on TV trays while watching Monday Night Football.
- ½ cup onion, chopped
- 6 cloves garlic, smashed and minced
- 4 shiitake mushrooms, sliced
- 2 tbsp red bell pepper, chopped
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- ¼ cup corn kernels
- 1 carrot, diced
- ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cup unsalted chicken stock
- 1 8-oz can low-salt tomato sauce
- 1 tbsp dried parsley flakes
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tsp fish sauce
- 1 tsp powdered chicken consomme or bouillon cube
- 4 oz soft fish, such as flounder
- 1 pinch saffron strands
- pinch powdered thyme
- 1 10-oz cab baby clams, with juice
- 4 oz firm fish, such as cod
- 4 oz shrimp, shelled and deveined
- 1 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese per serving
Spray the bottom of a stock pot with vegetable spray, add the olive oil and turn on the heat, just to the point that the oil may be spread evenly over the pot bottom. Add the onion, garlic, mushrooms, and bell pepper, and turn the heat to medium high. Saute until the onion becomes translucent.
Add the remaining ingredients above, down to the saffron. Bring the pot to a mild simmer, and let it cook, stirring occasionally, for half an hour. Afterword, add the saffron, clams with juice, firm fish, and shrimp; then reestablish a simmer for about 5 minutes, until the fish and shrimp are cooked. No longer!
Ladle the stew into festive bowls and top each with a tablespoon of Parmesan cheese. Serve with toast on the side.
Serves 2, with leftovers.